California’s Yosemite National Park

Tunnel View Overlook Rededicated

Wednesday, November 05 2008 21:30   Yosemite
Following a $3 Million Restoration effort, a much-needed makeover to Yosemite National Park's historic Tunnel View Overlook has been completed, the first project of the National Park Service's Centennial Initiative.

"The rededication of this famous site shows that we can rise to the challenge of reinvigorating our national parks with stunning results," Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said at dedication ceremonies held Oct. 24, 2008. "It is our hope that this project, and vistas like this will inspire support and interest in preserving our national parks into the next century."

Hundreds attended the ceremony marking completion of the overlook's restoration, a place photographed by thousands daily for its expansive views of California's Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, and Half Dome. The celebration was modeled after the dedication marking the opening of the site in 1933, including vintage automobiles, an honor guard and a blessing by American Indians.

"Tunnel View is 75 years old this year and it has never looked better," said Yosemite National Park Superintendent Mike Tollefson. "We're proud to be able to partner with organizations like The Yosemite Fund to rehabilitate this iconic view to the benefit of all park visitors. It's a fitting way to celebrate the approaching 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 20th anniversary of The Yosemite Fund."

Funding for the $3.3 million restoration came from the nonprofit Yosemite Fund, which contributed $1.8 million, and $1.5 million from the National Park Service.

The Tunnel View Overlook Rehabilitation Project features a larger and safer viewing area, wheelchair accessibility, educational exhibits, a rebuilt trailhead, revamped parking areas, clearer circulation patterns for vehicles and pedestrians, and improved drainage. These issues were addressed while maintaining vistas and the naturalistic rustic character and integrity of this historic site.

"This view is one of nature's extraordinary creations and is familiar to people around the world," said Bob Hansen, president of The Yosemite Fund. "The improvements re-establish the promise of inspiration to those who visit Tunnel View. We're ecstatic that Tunnel View was the first project to be completed as part of the Centennial Challenge and are pleased to partner with the National Park Service to improve this historic site."

Yosemite's Tunnel View Overlook, located next to Wawona Road at the east portal of the Wawona Tunnel, was constructed during an era that heralded a boom in design and development throughout the National Park Service, and helped initiate the service's "rustic" design style. Because of their exemplary park service rustic design, Wawona Tunnel and Tunnel View are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The site remains one of the most popular scenic overlooks in Yosemite National Park. Tour buses, tram tours, and single-family vehicles bring as many as 7,000 people to the site each day during the height of the visitor season.

For more information about Yosemite National Park visit the web site at

For a complete list of the 2008 National Park Service Centennial Challenge projects and programs, please visit


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